The Puerto Rico coqui, or little frog, as it is known in Puerto Rico, lives in a family of over 600 species of frogs. It is a tiny tree frog, measuring about one inch in length. They are translucent in color, though some appear yellow, some brown and some green. Their toes are not webbed, but separated and have small pads on the bottom so they can stick to surfaces. However, lack of this webbing means that they can not swim.
The high pitched sound they make can be heard after dusk, and will travel quite far. They sing through the evening hours. This “co-kee” sound is where their name comes from. The females do not sing though, it is only the males that you hear. The males make this sound for two reasons. The first half, or the “Co” sound is to warn other males to stay away. The second half, or the “Kee” sound, is for attracting females. The coqui frog is a nocturnal predator. They will feast on spiders, moths, snails, crickets, while the younger coqui mostly eat ants. The males will eat eggs in their nest to gain nourishment.
The Puerto Rico coqui mate and reproduce year round. The eggs are laid on land, and the small coqui frog emerges with a tiny tail, that falls off soon after. There are approximately 28 eggs laid at a time, around 4 to 6 times a year.
The coqui frog occasionally engages in a type of singing competition. One coqui may tresspass in another’s area, and challenge them to a singing game. The intruder will start a call and the other coqui must answer and keep the rhythm going. The first coqui who misses his turn must immediately leave, whether he was there to begin with or not. All species of Puerto Rico coqui frog perform this sing-a-thon, but some have a slightly different call.
Coqui frogs are native to Puerto Rico, but have spread to the Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, and even to Florida and Hawaii. They have moved into these new habitats possibly by transferral while hidden in plants, or perhaps even by humans bringing them to a new place as a pet.
They have become the unofficial symbol of Puerto Rico.